Cooling Foods for Summer

by Clark Zimmerman, LAc.

One of the best parts of summer is the food.  Backyard barbecues, abundant fruit, a summer garden and the ice cream truck all hold a special place in our lives.  There are more options as the garden, growers market and grocery store all overflow with a large variety of colors and flavors.  We all realize that food can bring us joy and improved health, but an often overlooked aspect of food is its effects on our body’s temperature.  In Chinese medicine as well as Ayurvedic medicine, a lot of emphasis is placed on the effect a particular food has on the overall temperature of the body and thus on our health and comfort level.  

We all know that when we are feeling hot, the last thing we want is to eat something that is hot.  Hot stew and summer heat do not go well together.  This is one of the reasons that we tend to crave salads or ice cream in the summer, and hot soups and stews in the winter.  Too much heat in the body can cause a variety of symptoms including headaches, fever, red eyes, flushed skin, rashes, constipation, acid reflux, burning bowel movements or urination and insomnia.  Since food is something we put into our body every day, it is often the most effective medicine. It is also typically the cheapest way to improve our health, and since we don’t need a prescription or an appointment to go to the market, it is also the easiest way to stay healthy.  So what are the healthiest food choices to beat the summer heat.  Here is a list of 10 great foods for the summer.

1) Leafy greens/ Lettuce:  Greens have a high percentage of water, which helps cool  you off by keeping you hydrated.  

2) Raw foods:  Raw foods take a bit more energy to digest, so they take some of the stomachs fire and put it to good use.

3) Berries:  Berries are alkaline and cooling.  You can also freeze berries and eat them as an extra cooling snack.

4) Melons:  Watermelon is especially cooling.  Ever try watermelon juice. Yum!

5) Cucumber:  Good in salads.

6) Avocado:  Cooling and full of healthy fats.

7) Coconut.  Coconut water is one of our family favorites.  They also make delicious coconut ice cream that is dairy free.

8) Bean sprouts.  Especially mung beans.  They are detoxifying, as well as cooling.

9) Yogurt:  If dairy doesn’t sit well, you can try a delicious coconut yogurt.

10) Herbal teas:  Such as mint, chrysanthemum or red peony.

Enjoy the heat.

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